How I Watch Fights (UFC Betting Interview)

It’s always interesting to here what other bettors prioritise when breaking down fights. YouTube blogger and member of Bet MMA, The 30-26 Breakdown has created a series of videos where he interviews MMA Handicappers about this topic, myself included.

Link to the series as a whole

My two interview videos:
Mike Tycoon
Units Profit: 213.81, ROI: 48%

I have the opportunity to elaborate on some of the points in the videos here and also to add some more stuff.

In my video I mentioned that what I do best is “leaving bets the hell alone“. Great example this week… I spent about 6 hours scouting the Cezar Ferreira vs Elias Theodorou fight. Cezar is pretty much better at everything technically and Elias is super sloppy. I wanted so bad to pick Cezar and I even did a pick writeup for it but if I am not 100% certain on a pick, I leave the writeup and play games for an hour then read the writeup and see if I definitely want to submit. Sometimes I will do a writeup just to arrange the thoughts I have in my head and see if it all makes sense. If I can’t convince myself with a writeup, I’ll ditch it. Even though I’d spent ages and ages on that fight, I just couldn’t back Cezar because of his worse cardio, worse chin and poor fight IQ… All the important intangibles. Though my record doesn’t get any actual credit in the form of a nice big green W; not betting that fight was just as important, if not moreso, because if you are tipping fights then people remember those big fat red Ls more than the green Ws. I’m certainly just as pleased with myself for not tipping that fight as I am for actually tipping a McMann win or a Kongo win from this weekend.
I get 35-50 buys per week on my picks at the moment. I can imagine a few people who bought the picks were like “what the hell? I am paying this dude money to tell me to bet 6 units on McMann and 5 units on Kongo, two big favourites? I would have bet them anyway.” Well, actually, what you’re paying me five whole dollars for is more to watch nearly a full day’s tape on Cezar Ferreira then not get suckered into tipping it just because of all the time I spent on it.

To elaborate on what I meant by picking winners sometimes being an ego thing. Basically, sometimes I feel like people get fixated with trying to pick a winner. They’ll spend hours and hours watching tape for a super close matchup because they wanna prove to themself that they can break down the fight well or they wanna get the right pick in a pickem contest or maybe they wanna look clever to other people… They end up getting obsessed with tiny details like “x puts his foot here when he throws his right hand and I think that gives him a slight edge in the striking” or whatever… It’s OK to say you have no idea who’s going to win, even after watching loads of tape, but sometimes people feel like they HAVE to make a pick because they’ve put so much time into it. It’s much easier to say “this is a super competitive fight. I dunno who’s going to win but neither guy is really a finisher, so I’d say the over hits 80% of the time.” If that 80% represents value (and it usually will), then it’s a much, much better bet.

I had a look through the top few cappers again. Of the guys that bet props:
I’m 45-5 (90%) on overs, 3-1 (75%) on unders.
HedgeFund is 14-10 58% on over and 1-2 (33%) on unders.
Mark Habshade is 50-12 (81%) on overs and 1-2 (33%) on unders.
Iso Soprano is 62-19 (77%) on overs and 0-1 on unders.
Hades Nexus is 15-3 on overs (83%) and 2-2 (50%) on unders.

Obviously a lot of those bets are at short odds so you have to analyse the value further but you can see that at the very least, the people who make the most profit do like betting overs a lot more than unders and have a lot higher hit rate with them too.

Clinch Importance. I asked him to tag this on the end of the second video because I think a LOT of fights are won and lost in the clinch. If you are losing the striking, being better in the clinch is a great out. If you are the better striker, if you can also dominate the clinch then it’s going to put them in a really bad place where they have to land a takedown from range.

Because the clinch is so based on fundamentals (it’s pretty much just always a battle for underhooks and clinch control / positional advantage), I think you can rate people pretty well on their clinch ability if you have enough common opponents or a frame or reference. I don’t think you can rate any other aspect of the game in terms of an MMA Math “A beat B and B beat C so C will beat A”…. but in clinch, I think there’s a very strong chance that will be the case.

Corrections:
Just to correct a few things that weren’t what I meant or were a bit off.
– In vid 2 he mentioned flyweights coming off a loss. He said it’s debuting fighters but it’s not, that’s all fighters at the weight.
– Clinch hierarcy for the women’s bantamweight. He put Eye at the top but I have her right near the bottom 🙂 Unlucky Jessica 🙂 I do this for all weights, not just one weight class.
– Saparbek Safarov. I never mentioned that going to a decision. I actually bet that Villante would win inside the distance. The point was correct though. If someone has an inflated finishing rate due to poor opposition, I’ll often consider the over or a bet on them winning by decision. Even if you have two guys with high finishing rates coming in and fighting each other, I often look at the over. When you face a dangerous guy you are more cautious, even if you are a dangerous guy yourself, so sometimes they cancel each other out. Also, if you’re getting finishes yourself and not being finished, you probably have a better chin than the people who are getting finished… So two finishers against each other is often two good chins against each other.
– Listening to commentators in general and commentators being harsh or vice versa: They were being hard on Paige Van Zant in the Rose fight, rather than the other way around. To elaborate, I can understand the concept of watching with the sound off to “avoid bais”, but I don’t really think that’s backing yourself very much as a capper, if you don’t think you can tell when a commentor is talking bullshit… For me, you certainly gain more insight from having the commentary on, than problems you might cause yourself from potentially being swayed. Whether the fighter listens to their corner, whether they listen to ref instructions, whether they’re breathing heavily or not or sounding frustrated…. Not to mention mitigating circumstances for past poor performances that you will hear in the commentary.

And finally…
One thing I think is really important that was missed off. I DO listen to plenty of other people’s opinions. Again, this is kinda like the commentary thing. Why not take in extra information? If you don’t listen to other people, you’re basically a narcissist imo. Or if you don’t listen to other people because you don’t trust yourself not to be swayed… man…. back your own intelligence! If you can’t disagree with someone, you’re probably not going to be very good at analysing in general because analysing stuff is all about weighing up information, whether that is previous fight performance or other people’s take on a fight.
What I would say though – if you don’t have a really good memory, take notes on other cappers and their opinions if it helps! Treat them like they’re a fighter that needs analysing and rating.

I’ll give you one example. The MMA Vivisection guys… I listen to their podcast (one of 3-4 I listen to) and they are good at breaking down the main card. However, they talk with equal certainty about fights they clearly have not researched at all, so you have to be super careful when it comes to their undercard analysis.

For example, the Asker against Smoliakov fight, they both agreed with each other (which they tend to do when they don’t know, rather than just saying they don’t know), that Smoliakov should be the favourite and the money coming in on Asker made no sense. They stated that Smoliakov was the more natural striker and the better grappler bla bla bla… Basically everything they said was completely and utterly wrong and I could tell they hadn’t watched any tape on it at all specifically for this fight (they probably just watched some fights ages ago and were trying to remember). I only knew this because I had watched about 6 hours of tape for the fight and was betting Asker. To listen to them talk though, you’d think they’d watched tape too because they talk with too much confidence.

Once you know that though, you can listen for little tells that really they haven’t really got much of an idea on a fight and just ignore what they’re saying when you think that’s what’s happening. It would be infinitely more helpful if they just said they have no idea and move on but they addressed that criticism in their latest podcast by basically saying “if we just said we don’t know all the time, there would be no point in the podcast.”… That totally misses the point because sometimes you do know and sometimes you don’t but whatever.

In general I would say the most important thing I look for in someone else’s opinion is if they acknowledge why they might be wrong. If somoene comes out saying “x is definitely going to win, no question, this other fighter sucks”, I’ll generally make a mental note to pay very little attention to that person’s opinion. Good bettors are analysing % chance in their head and juggling lots of thoughts in their head about potential outcomes, whether they know they are doing it or not. If someone is absolute and certain in their analysis, they’re not doing that.

Other videos in the series

As I mentioned at the beginning of the blog, all the other guys in the series also track their bets on Bet MMA, so here are their videos.

Dan Levi – Half The Battle / Best Fight Picks
Units Profit: 67.53, ROI: 14%
Levi is currently on a good streak. He bets small unit amounts so he’s further down the leaderboard than he should be in 16th but if you view the adjusted table, he’s currently top if you use the default adjusted bet amounts.

 

MMA Prophet
Units Profit: 79.19 ROI: 29%
As mentioned in my last blog already, this guy’s doing a really good job and is getting the second most sales on the site each event, after myself. I would like to see him add pick writeups to the site as I’m sure they’d be well thought out (I know you’ll be reading this bud) 😉

 

Sean Carey Tattoo / Thunder Dick Picks
Units Profit: 45.27, ROI: 11%
Very different from my personal philosophy and style of betting but check out his profile and see what you think and if he matches your personal style.

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